Let’s talk about something other than dogs in the beginning, can we? For example, a healthy romantic relationship. When you are in one, there is nothing better and more loving than intense eye contact. It strengthens your bond.
This eye contact is true when you are in a relationship with a human. But it is also true for a relationship between a person and a dog.
The trick is dogs are not used to eye contact. Yes, they might gaze at you. Yet, they are not used to you looking at them and staring at them.
With the right eye contact, you can build trust, improve the bond between the two of you, and make training much easier and better.
How to establish eye contact?
Here is a dirty little secret. Kissing and eye contact might feel scary for some dogs. They are not used to it. Dogs love to give us kisses. But they are not used to getting kissed back.
So, how to establish eye contact? We said it is a great thing to improve your bond with your puppy. And the better the bond, the better the training. When you have a great bond, your dog wants to be with you and listen to you.
Eye contact helps improve the focus between you and your puppy. Your pet will focus on you and wait for your instruction. Here is how to establish eye contact.
- Give your puppy a treat and then glance at his eyes for a second
- Another treat, and another glance
- Repeat a few times, and then move away and wait for your pup to come and look upon you
- Your puppy should be looking at you and waiting for treats
- Give him a treat, and then turn around. This is a trick to establish your leadership role and dominance. You want to make your dog focus on you
- Young puppies are quicker to learn. Once you establish eye contact and your puppy is looking for you, move on touching and grabbing your dog
Remember, to touch a puppy is an earned privilege, not a right. A lot of biting accidents happen because you have not trained your dog to accept touching. When you touch a dog or grab his collar, you can trigger an accident, especially with a big dog.
The psychology of dog eye contact
Now let’s talk a bit about dog psychology. What you have to understand is that eye contact for dogs is different from how it is for humans. We can maintain eye contact for minutes sometimes, especially during a deep conversation.
But that behavior is not normal in the canine world. Dogs can make brief eye contact when they meet someone new. And when I say brief, I mean a second or two. Just watch your puppy when it meets a new dog. After two-second eye contact, the puppies decide whether they want to play, interact, or fight.
Longer and direct eye contact in the canine world is a way to establish dominance. And by that logic, when you gaze at your puppy for a longer period, it means you establish dominance. Holding eye contact shows the dog you are not backing down. Or in the canine world, when a dog holds eye contact, it means it is not backing down.
This is why dogs take prolonged eye contact from strangers as a threat.
Why is your dog trying to make eye contact with you?
Now let’s talk about something else. We said why you should be trying to establish eye contact with your puppy. But why is your pup looking at you?
For starters, your pet is trying to get something from you. Those irresistible puppy eyes often mean “give me food”, “give me a toy” or “give me treats”. Dogs use eye contact as a way to communicate. But it can also mean I need to go potty.
Another reason is bonding. In the same way you want to connect with your puppy, your pup wants to bond with you as well.
And last, but not least, your puppy is just confident and has a charismatic personality. Confident dogs often make eye contact with humans to connect and it is considered a sign of charisma.